Last week we reported that Apple is preparing to announce a new 4-inch iPhone dubbed the “iPhone 5se” as soon as mid-March. Our report noted that the new iPhone is essentially an upgraded iPhone 5s with a faster processor, Apple Pay, new camera features, and curved glass edges instead of sharp chamfers. Now, we have a few additional details about this new iPhone model. First, we are told that there are different prototypes of the device floating around Apple’s campus: some with the A8 and M8 chips that we discussed in our previous report, and some with the iPhone 6s’s A9 and M9 processors. We’ve now learned that the iPhone 5se is more likely to include variants of the A9 and M9 chips instead of the A8 and M8 lines…
Siri percolated throughout all of Apple’s platforms in 2015. It started with iPhone in 2011, iPad in 2012, debuted on Apple Watch in early 2015 and Apple TV with the new model a few months ago. It’s quickly becoming a premier feature on these platforms, with live-as-you-speak transcription and radically new features like ‘Remind me about this’ contextual tasks when inside apps. Except for one platform of course. Mac OS X has been ignored and left abandoned with regards to true voice searching and Siri. It’s 2016, and I want Apple to bring Siri to the Mac.
We’ve already seen some interesting new HomeKit accessories out of CES 2016 including the first Siri-controlled ceiling fans, and now iDevices is expanding its current lineup of HomeKit-compatible products with four new gadgets that make home automation even easier. The Apple accessory maker is showing off its new Socket, Wall Switch, Dimmer Switch, and Wall Outlet which will let you control and automate standard light bulbs and other appliances using iOS and Siri. iDevices already offers a HomeKit Switch and Outdoor Switch (plus Thermostat), and today’s newly announced gear includes hard-wired solutions and ways to turn any lightbulb into a smart lightbulb.
Welcome to the latest edition of Jeremy’s 5, my latest quick roundup of 5 interesting little things that aren’t big enough for full articles, but are still worth sharing with you.
My first edition of 2016 looks at two separate topics related to this week’s 2016 CES: first, Apple’s continued absence from the show, and second, the annual event’s seemingly declining interest to Apple fans. I also wanted to share some additional thoughts on Apple’s Remote Loop for the new Apple TV’s Siri Remote, the classic (but ever-evolving) iOS app Akinator the Genie, and the continued scourge of free-to-play games…
December 18, 2015
I know not everyone gets along with Siri, but personally I love it. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it’s my default way of interacting with my iPhone, whether it’s searching the web, dictating a text message, setting an alarm, setting for location-based reminders, noting appointments, phoning friends, playing music, getting directions … even opening apps.
The main reason I use Siri is simply efficiency – which some of my friends insist is spelled ‘laziness.’ But really, if I can simply ask my phone to do something for me, or tell me something, why wouldn’t I? Interacting with a touchscreen and manually typing things is so last century.
It also saves time. If I’m walking down the street, I can ask Siri to do something without breaking stride. Doing the same task manually would mean either stopping or ending up walking in front of a bus. I’ve also used my Apple Watch to ask Siri to do something at traffic light stops when cycling – there simply wouldn’t be time in that situation to pull out my phone and do the same thing manually.
But powerful as Siri is, I’d like to see it be able to do more – much, much more …
December 9, 2015
Don’t expect it to match Siri for functionality, however – with Siri deeply embedded into iOS and Cortana a mere app, it will have limited capabilities, but you can at least see how it compares when it comes to answering questions …
Yesterday Apple released tvOS 9.1 for the new fourth-gen Apple TV which adds support for the Remote app on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch just like the previous Apple TV model. This makes setup and text input much easier from iPhones and iPads as you can use the software keyboard versus relying on swiping left and right across a keyboard, but many have wondered if Apple would update the Remote app to offer features more like the new Siri Remote for Apple TV. Apple’s Eddy Cue says the answer is definitely, speaking with Buzzfeed, and it’s coming during the first half of next year…
December 8, 2015
Apple today released tvOS 9.1 for the new Apple TV. Betas have included Siri support for controlling Apple Music, which Apple first said would be available for customers by early next year. Update: tvOS 9.1 does indeed add Siri support for Apple Music to all users. Apple’s Remote app also works with the new Apple TV for the first time. That means text input from iPhones and iPads will make setup much easier (and on par with older Apple TVs). watchOS 2.1 lets Apple Watch’s built-in Remote app work with new Apple TVs as a D-pad too.
Apple today released iOS 9.2 for iPhones and iPads after several versions of testing. The point update so far has included improvements to Safari including an improved Safari View Controller for viewing websites within apps and easily dismissing them afterwards, the addition of Arabic language support with the Siri voice assistant for the first time, and more.
Apple CEO Tim Cook is continuing his public support for equality with a video raising awareness for the Cerebral Palsy foundation. The campaign ‘Just Say Hi’ encourages people to communicate and interact with people with disabilities in the same way as any other person; hence the ‘just say hi’ moniker.
In the clip, Cook uses Siri to ask how to start a conversation with someone who has a disability. Following the campaign, Siri replies: ‘It’s easy. Just say “hi”.’ You can try this on your iPhone or iPad as well. Siri will repeat the same thing.
Watch the video after the break …
December 3, 2015
Ford may be taking its time to equip its vehicles with CarPlay, but the manufacturer has good news for owners of older Fords: it has today announced a software update to add Siri Eyes Free support to more than five million vehicles dating back to 2011. The update is for vehicles equipped with Ford’s own infotainment system, SYNC.
Ford today is releasing a new software update for more than 5 million SYNC-equipped vehicles dating back to the 2011 model year, adding more convenience for Apple iPhone users with Siri Eyes-Free capability.
Ford Electronics director Sherif Marakby said: “Siri Eyes-Free is another great voice-activated feature that not only adds convenience but helps our customers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.”
While Siri Eyes Free has been rather eclipsed by CarPlay, it’s still a useful halfway house … expand full story
December 1, 2015
Apple today has debuted two new TV ads for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. These ads come just a week after the company unveiled its new holiday ad featuring Stevie Wonder and Andra Day. The two new iPhone ads are entitled “Hey Siri” and “Ridiculously Powerful,” and focus on exactly what you would expect them to.
Leapfrogging the one-device HomeKit “smart plugs” previously released by iHome, ConnectSense has debuted the Smart Outlet with Apple HomeKit ($80), which combines two Siri-controlled wall power outlets with a 2.4-Amp USB port. Using Wi-Fi, the Smart Outlet lets you separately monitor and control each of the three-prong outlets, while the side-mounted USB port has enough power to refuel any iPad — including the iPad Pro — or iPhone at full speed.
Designed with a subtle light bar running across the top, bottom, and front, the Smart Outlet easily replaces a single three-prong outlet, plugging in and covering the existing wall plate with no need for special wiring. ConnectSense notes that Apple’s HomeKit provides end-to-end security for its monitoring and control features, enabling you to safely use Siri or a free app for iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to turn off lights or activate connected devices from afar. When paired with other accessories, HomeKit also enables you to create “scenes,” simultaneously turning off your lights, locking your door, closing your garage door, and setting your thermostat. A gallery is below…
November 27, 2015
The idea of a smart home is a long running meme in technological circles. Apple has made the biggest stride recently with HomeKit and there is now a significant ecosystem of lights, switches, and other accessories to buy for your home. That being said, smart home accessories are still novelties and quite pricey: they aren’t must-have purchases. However, this makes them great gifts for the holiday season — uncommon presents that are fun to play with and have some long-lasting usefulness. We’ve rounded up our favorite HomeKit accessories below …
November 18, 2015
November 10, 2015
Apple recently confirmed that the Apple TV will get Siri support for Apple Music from the beginning of next year, and iDownloadBlog‘s Jeff Benjamin found that it’s already present in the beta of tvOS 9.1.
You can now direct the remote assistant to play any song or album directly from Apple Music, even if the song or album isn’t in your library. Siri can even search for songs on Apple Music, play Play Beats 1 radio, and more.
Benjamin demo’d the functionality in a video (below) … expand full story
November 9, 2015
November 6, 2015
Last week, Apple seeded the first beta of the upcoming iOS 9.2 release to developers, and we’ve discovered that the new update will add support for Arabic in Siri. Apple previously built in the fundamental elements of understanding Arabic to iOS by adding Arabic support to the Keyboard Dictation and QuickType features in iOS 8 last year. Apple adding Arabic support to Siri follows up on Apple expanding its retail presence to the United Arab Emirates by opening up a pair of flagship stores in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
A local YouTube video shows off examples of Siri in Arabic:
November 4, 2015
While Siri voice search is a core feature of the new Apple TV, right now it’s limited to only eight countries: UK, US, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Japan. In other regions, the Siri Remote is simply called the Apple TV Remote (not to be confused with the old Apple TV Remote) and pressing the mic button just opens the Search app.
This is despite the fact Siri on iPhone is actually available in 30 countries, so it wasn’t clear why Apple had pinpointed only a subset of those. It turns out, according to a chat with Apple by MacPrime, that there are some clever optimizations Apple makes with Apple TV Siri to improve speech recognition.